Brachial plexus palsy, also called Erb’s palsy, is a disorder with a broad array of debilitating symptoms. Impairment can range from as little as one of the five main nerves that serve the brachial plexus to full paralysis of the arms and hands.
A brachial plexus injury can result in a serious and lifelong condition that requires constant monitoring and exorbitant costs. The damage inflicted on the brachial plexus during labor determines the severity of the disorder. While many babies recover from the brachial plexus injuries suffered during the labor process, others may require specialized treatment. Shoulder dystocia is a major cause of brachial plexus palsy and brachial plexus injuries can occur due to difficult or complicated deliveries.
Depending on the type of damage inflicted, there are four types of brachial plexus palsy:
- Avulsion. In an avulsion, the nerve is completely torn from the spinal cord.
- Neuroma. In neuroma, scar tissue presses on the healthy remaining nerve.
- Neurapraxia. In this injury, the nerve is only slightly damaged but not ripped and could heal on its own.
- Rupture. In a rupture, the nerve is ripped but not separated from the spine.
The range of symptoms hinges on which nerves were involved and how many were injured and to what extent. The more nerves pulled and torn, the greater the loss of movement. If a nerve is completely torn, it can never repair itself, resulting in paralysis of that muscle. Medical malpractice may be at the root of brachial plexus palsy.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.